Life is different with this much jam.
I'm not used to making these kinds of big decisions so early in my day, and I find myself standing with the fridge door open for long periods of time contemplating what kind to have on my bagel. The bagel/toast/whatever, by the way, is by far secondary to the jam, and acts merely as a platform to get the jam into my tummy. Mmm, jam. Which one to open next?
Happy Thanksgiving to our neighbors to the south! I'm sure you all wined and dined on turkey and the trimmings and whether you know it or not, you will all drive me crazy with your various posts over the next few days featuring your tantalizing menus from the holiday. Not to worry, I'm already in Christmas mode and my home smells like gingerbread.
In case you find yourself standing with your fridge door open wondering what to do with all your turkey leftovers, here's a simple, but tasty pasta dish. It freezes very well, allowing you to spread the turkey love over a few weeks if you don't feel like dining on fowl yet another night in a row.
Of course, this is just an alternate version of Turkey Tetrazzini, but I dislike that name, having had one too many gray, nasty pasta dishes by that label.
Did I mention that this dish freezes great? I make this recipe and freeze half for another night. Isn't it nice to have a casserole or two in the freezer when you are out Christmas shopping all afternoon and don't have time to cook? Oh, and the kids eat this one too. Bonus.
That's all for now. I've got to get cracking on some canapes for a party tomorrow and there's gingerbread to decorate for my cookie swap on Sunday. I better brew an espresso, it's going to be a long night!
Note: I've made this without the wine and it's still great.
Linguine with Turkey, Thyme and Petit Pois
(adapted from Chicken Tetrazzini)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves OR 1/2 tsp dried
1 pound linguine, broken in half
4 cups cooked turkey, skin removed, meat shredded
1 cup fresh peas or grated zucchini.
1. Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for pasta). In a large saucepan melt tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add milk, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and add 1 1/2 cups Parmesan and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente; drain and return to pot. Add sauce, turkey, and peas. Toss well to combine. Divide between two shallow 2-quart baking dishes; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Freeze (see below) or bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
To freeze: After placing pasta mixture in baking dishes and sprinkling with Parmesan (step 3), cool to room temperature. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 3 months.
To bake from frozen: Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 2 hours. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more. Serve.
To bake from thawed: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
I'm a proud mama and it shows! I'm making you sit through a few photos I snapped during my first Christmas cookie decorating session with Noah, before I give you the winner to my apron giveaway. At the ripe old age of three, my eldest is learning that a few of life's simple pleasures are sugar cookies, icing and sprinkles. He did a great job of decorating--he was so concentrated on his efforts! I considered handing him the pastry bag that I was working with, but we'll wait until he is four.
Here's what I was working on...wedding favors for my mother-in-law's December wedding. Busy, busy times!
Thanks for being so patient.
And now, the winner of my handmade, hand embroidered vintage-style apron IS....
Congratulations to Lynn and a big thank you to all who left comments. You rock!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
So the vanilla cupcakes aren't the real reason you should be excited about this post. I'm about to give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your very own cupcake stand like the one pictured above!
I don't know what's gotten into me lately. I've been bitten by the craft bug or something. It all started with the party hats and various other projects from Noah' s birthday party, then the hand embroidered aprons for the jam swap, and now this. (There's also some felt Christmas stockings in the plans for the little ones, but let's not hold our breath on those.)
What's going on?? It's like I turned thirty and boom, I woke up with a glue gun in one hand and a pair of knitting needles in the other. I would never consider myself to be a crafty person, yet I now have a (very large) box labeled "Arts & Crafts"in my closet full of ribbon, glue, and glitter. If you can help me understand this, ahem, creative phase of my life, I'd appreciate it.
Wait a sec, this isn't menopause, IS IT? Because I was planning on combating that head on with an extra glass of wine or two, not pinking shears and rick-rack. This craft thing is too expensive to become a crutch. Any idea what a good pair of scissors costs these days?
Anyway, this cupcake stand came to be when I found myself in need of a way to display the 60 or so cupcakes I had made for my mother-in-law's wedding shower last weekend. I love to use height in my food presentations and I'm sorry but those Wilton cupcake stands just don't do a thing for me. I was convinced I could make my own and thanks to CakeJournal, I did!
Now, we'll get to the cupcake stand in a minute, but first, the Vanilla Bean Cupcake:
I have to say, it was a pretty decent all-around indulgence. With a moist, buttermilk cake base (also laden with vanilla bean seeds) and the fluffiest of buttercreams, this darling is going to be a staple around here. To further emphasize the pure vanilla in these cupcakes, I topped them with a sugared shard of vanilla bean, and with that sparking touch, this cupcake is making it's way over to Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook for the November Sugar High Fridays Event!
Susan's blog is new to me, but I loved her choice for this month: All That Glitters. Brilliant! (Of course the New Artsy-Crafty Aimee is secretly thrilled that the challenge has the word 'glitter' in it.) A big thank you to Susan for hosting this event and be sure to check out her blog on November 28 for the entire luminescent round-up! I can't wait to see what other people have come up with and I'm sure their submissions will shine a lot brighter than my little twice-licked, once-dipped vanilla bean. Not exactly a light-bulb moment in my culinary career.
OK, OK, I'm joking, I didn't lick the vanilla beans.... And all the ladies reading from the shower just gave a sigh of relief (Hi Barb!)
Recipes at the bottom, as usual.
Oh, and yes I am aware that I am only giving you the recipe for the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes, yet there are several other varieties pictured! Don't pout on me now. The ring-topped cupcakes are none other than my recently posted Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Frosting, which, for the record, makes a phenomenal cupcake. As for the chocolate ones? We'll you'll just have to wait for them, but here is a little hint. Yeah, insane.
All right, time to get out the scissors and paper. What's so great about this stand? Well for starters, you can customize it to any event you need by coordinating the paper and ribbon to match the event type. My MIL is having a winter wedding, hence the snowflake theme. Or you can adapt it to match your cupcakes, even better.
It's also so darn easy to make, why not indulge your inner Martha? Trust me, if I can make this stand, you can too, provided you have the right materials. Here's what you need to get started:
Three cake boards: 8", 12" and 14" (I purchased mine from Ares) These are the silver rounds you see in the photo above. Naturally you can use whatever sizes you want (8", 10", 12" works well) but I wanted a large stand.
Heavy duty gift wrap paper
Glue and glue stick (not pictured)
Cake Dummies: These are the two Styrofoam-looking rounds and are use for practicing wedding cakes. Also found at Ares. Note: Ideally I would have use one 2"x4" dummy and one 2"x6", but they only had 6" so I went with two of those.
Ribbon: enough to wrap the dummies and trim the edge of the cake boards.
Straight pins (should match your ribbon.)
Start by tracing the cake board rounds onto the wrapping paper that you will be covering them with. Lay them on the underside of the paper and trace with a pencil. Cut out the rounds.
Using your glue stick with a light hand, glue paper onto the cake boards. Working from the middle out, smooth with your hands to push out the air and remove bubbles. Allow to dry. If you wish, glue ribbon around the edge of the boards. I skipped this step as my silver cake boards already matched my silver paper--also I ran out of ribbon...Classic.
Wrap cake dummies with chosen ribbon. Start by securing one end with a straight pin. Wrap until entire dummy is covered and secure again with a pin. You can also glue the ribbon on, but this way makes for an easy removal of ribbon.
Assemble cupcake stand starting with the bottom layer. Place largest cake round on your workplace and glue ribbon-covered dummy directly onto the middle. Apply glue to the top of this dummy and place middle sized cake round on top, make sure it is centered, and press firmly to attach.
Glue second cake dummy in the center and glue the final and smallest cake round on top of it.
If this sounds like a lot of gluing, you're right! I also used a ruler to make sure things were centered and balanced.
Stand should resemble the above photo. Now put something slightly heavy on top and allow to dry overnight. Your cupcake stand is now ready to party!
Shoot me an email with a photo if you decide to make you own. Have fun!
Note: if these directions made no sense to you whatsoever, here is the complete tutorial on Cake Journal. I tried my best...
Note 2: In the photo at the very top of the page, you'll notice my stand has a extra tiny tier to it. Yes, I played around with some extra Styrofoam and rigged up a little topper for my cupcake stand featuring my Re-Ment mini cake stand that I recently won. I couldn't resist showing it off!
Right, about those recipes....This is making for a VERY long post. My apologies.
Very Vanilla Cupcakes
(These were heavenly fresh from the oven and still pretty decent the second day; however, they didn't freeze well and shriveled up into dry little morsels.)
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 vanilla bean
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the kosher salt after sifting and set aside. Measure out the buttermilk.
2. Cream the butter and the sugar using an electric mixer, until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, letting the eggs beat for 1 minute in between additions. Scrape down the bowl in between additions. Add vanilla and beat well. Slice vanilla bean lengthwise and with the tip of a knife, scrape out the seeds and add the to the butter mixture. Mix well.
3. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients. Start by adding one third of the flour mixture. Mix just to incorporate. Add half of the buttermilk. Add another one third of the flour mixture. Mix to incorporate. Add the last half of buttermilk, followed by the last third of flour.
4. Spoon into paper lined cupcake pans. Check the cupcakes after 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting with Vanilla Bean Buttercream.
Makes 16 small or 12 large cupcakes.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Makes about 2 cups
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup + 2 tbsps sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
In the bowl of an electric mixer set over the saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. Attach the bowl to the mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled. Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter, several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds with the tip of a knife. Add to buttercream and beat on low speed to eliminate air bubbles - about 2 minutes.
Using an offset spatula, generously frost cupcakes with buttercream.Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 1 day.Remove from fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday morning after the swap, I was walking on clouds. Nothing could bring me down, not both babies waking up with runny noses, not the mountain of laundry, not even the discovery that my dishwasher was broken. I kept looking over my stash of jam like a mother hen counting her eggs, and reveling in the sheer good fortune of this much jam under my roof. I had been so caught up in the planning and organizing of the swap, that I had forgotten about the end result: a well-stocked jam pantry for winter. The realization that this was mine, all mine, was a feeling, I imagine, similar to the discovery of a lottery win.
Bring on the snow, I say!
On a chilly Sunday afternoon, about twenty-five of us gathered with a few of our significant others at a much anticipated swap hosted by myself and my mother-in-law. The doorbell rang and rang, and as each person arrived with a box or two of jam under their arms, the main table filled up fast with the bounty, and the space beneath the table held the empty boxes.
Soon there was jam as far as the eye could see. Hallelujah!
With the main table groaning under 300 or so jars, we directed the savory preserves to a table of their own, where they looked quite pretty, I must say.
With the jam set up for viewing, and people eagerly circling the table scoping out the land, it was time for the tasting. Tea and coffee were brewed and I cracked open one jar of every kind of jam I could get my hands on. I had just taken several dozen scones out of the oven and as three of my dear friends had brought fresh scones along also, I heaped three baskets high and set them out with the jam.
And the tasting was underway!
Just listen to some of these varieties: Rhubarb-Vanilla Jelly, Pumpkin-Apple Butter, Pear-Rosemary Jam, Garlic & Caramelized Onion Jam, Cranberry-Apple Jelly, Quebec Strawberry-Maple Jam, Pear & Cashew Chutney...hungry yet?
I could tell the guests were itching to get down to business, so although I had scarcely tasted any jam (due to high traffic around the jam bar), I called the swap to order! Of course there are guidelines to remind people of: take only as many jars as you brought, no pushing, and so on.
Then people grabbed their boxes and the swap was officially on.
It was over in about seven minutes. When the dust settled, each jar had a home and people were smiling. I was thrilled with my stash, but I hadn't been quick enough. I missed out on some Lemon Butter and some Okanagan Cherry Jam. Sniff!
That was it! Before people were on their way, we raffled off a few items for charity that our guests of honour, Philippe and Ethné de Vienne had generously donated (spice kits! cookbook!), and did a draw for the door prize--a handmade, hand embroidered vintage-style apron similar to this one.
My mother-in-law and I had put our heads together to come up with a design for a decidedly girly apron and we loved how it turned out! She did a fantastic job of sewing them up and I gave them a personal touch by embroidering on the pocket. I don't think I've embroidered in about 22 years, so if you can't read what it says, that's OK. (Hint: it's the name of this blog).
The best part is that we made an extra one for YOU! Remember the little surprise I promised a few weeks ago? Well all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and I'll submit your name for a draw to win the apron pictured above in a giveaway.
You have until midnight on Sunday, November 23 to leave a comment. No anonymous comments, please. Good luck to all!
(For those of you who really want this apron, or one similar and don't want to leave it to chance, you can order one from my MIL, the lovely and talented Terrie, through me via email. Maybe I'll even monogram it for you.)
So a big thank you to all those who helped make this swap a success: Dorothy, Philippe, Ethné, Miranda, Terrie, Nadia, Rachel, and Danny.
Danny took most of the photos throughout the event, as I was otherwise occupied; didn't he do a great job?
There you have it. Hope you enjoyed the roundup and for those of you who couldn't make it, there's always next year!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Apparently, Anthony Bourdain's little one and a half year old daughter has the palate every foodie hopes their child will have. She eats olives like candy, munches on capers, and dines on roast rabbit and polenta with nettles for dinner. Naturally, this makes Tony very proud--and me, well, let's just say I feel the need to let off some steam.
How did I end up with the picky eater again? Did I not eat enough beating cobra hearts when I was on my world travels?* Didn't I do my time in the kitchen trenches? It is the smoking?
I think I might like him a little less now. Darn, it so hard, though. If he hadn't made that oh-so-memorable No Reservations episode here in Quebec and wasn't like my favorite celeb chef, I just might have it in for him and his perfect little girl.
Ach, Tony, I guess I'm happy for you.
How to tie that rant in with this super-moist pumpkin spice cake? I have no idea, but I guess if you have a picky eater and want to disguise some squash, this recipe is for you.
We certainly loved it and this weekend I'm doing a cupcake version for my mother-in-law's wedding shower. That's right, we've gone from a jam factory to a cupcake bakery here at UtHC. More on that coming soon.
These are originally called 'bars' but when I hear 'bar' I think nuts, caramel, gooey...these are like a slice of cake and that's all there is to it. The recipe is adapted from here. I know, I know, I won't make a habit of it.
These also make some pretty decent cupcakes, but I bet you've already thought of that.
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter,softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.
Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.
To make the icing:
Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and maple syrup and mix again. Fill a piping bag and pipe frosting onto cooled pumpkin bars.
*For the record, I have never eaten a snake's heart, but Bourdain has. He was in like Morocco or someplace. It's a good story.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I often wonder if it's just us, or if everyone else's desk/computer area is as chaotic and ridiculously cluttered as ours is. Seriously, the piles of papers are a foot high, the drawers barely shut (a few don't even open anymore), and there are scads of random items on the desk like embroidery hoops, breast pads (used), and sticky coffee spoons--not to mention all the usual office affiliated stuff.
That's just the desk. The bulletin board is an accident waiting to happen; propped up on the filing cabinet, every square centimeter covered with papers, it is so top heavy it threatens to fall forward with every added note.
Sigh. There's no chance of organization coming to this office anytime soon.
Still, that doesn't mean that this blog has to follow suit! My notebook has been filling up with juicy tidbits to share with you all and so consider this as my online bulletin posting, updating you on a few totally random things. We'll be back to our usual programming right after these messages.
My absolute favorite TV show starts tomorrow! If you've never watched a season of Top Chef, what are you waiting for?? This show makes Hell's Kitchen look like a B movie. The contestants are already full-blown chefs and the creativity in their dishes is inspiring.
Season Five is in New York City and we can only hope for plenty of screen time for Tony Bourdain and far less for Rocco.
Warning: fix yourself a snack before sitting down to watch as it will make you hungry, nay, ravenous.
Started Solids 201:
Mateo has been eating solids for a few months now and I haven't mentioned it for fear of jinxing the good start we have had. By now it's pretty obvious that this guy is a little gourmand in the making as he eats everything and appears to have food on the brain at all time. Hmm, I wonder where he gets that from!!? I couldn't be more thrilled with his enthusiasm for anything I put in front of him, as Noah gave me so much trouble in this department.
UtHC's Sister Connection:
Have I mentioned yet that I have a sister blog? Or rather, my sister has a blog now. Titled "Life Above the 50th", Haidi's rural blog journals country life after her young family's life-changing move from New Mexico, USA, to Northern British Columbia, Canada. Her ambitious plans (growing their own food, homeschooling, butchering a bison) make my little projects (jam swap, kitchen garden) look like child's play. Oh, and did I mention that she's pregnant?
We are cut from the same cloth, and so although the blog is mainly an overview of family life on the farm, there are plenty of food-related posts to keep a foodie coming back for more! Allow me to at least steer you in the direction of her first pig butchering experience, complete with rendering the fat and smoking the bacon. Mmm, bacon.
She's new to the whole blogging world, (do you remember what that was like?) so give her a warm welcome.
The first win was this absolutely precious Re-Ment food miniature from the lovely Michele over at Fine Furious Life:
This darling little cake stand set has enchanted me from the moment I laid eyes on it--and as you can see, Noah can hardly keep his hands off if it. Is this the beginning of a collection?? It just might be. As the recipient of Michele's giveaway, I also received a mini BBQ set, complete with a partially seared steak, tongs, and -oh yay!- a recipe for BBQ sauce. Gonna tuck that one away somewhere safe.
(For those of you who are wondering, you can purchase your own Re-Ment miniatures online at Toy Toyko.)
The second and third giveaways were won almost simultaneously --- and for the same item. Huh? This little book has been popping up all over the place on blogs, but I was still hugely surprised to be notified by both Cookie Baker Lynn and My Cake Wardrobe in the same day and told I had won Confetti Cakes for Kids their book giveaway.
I was quick to notify them of my address and I now am awaiting the books in the mail!
Now before you go off on a 'How greedy is that' tangent, let me just say that of course I won't be keeping both books to myself. I believe in 'Paying it Forward' and have plans for a little giveaway of my own...at my upcoming Christmas Cookie Swap!
Thanks so much, Lynn and cakewardrobe! I think I qualify to have this book--I am looking ahead at many years of making cakes for my kids and this will help a lot!
Many thanks to culinarywannabe and Abigail for bestowing this Kreativ Blogger Award on me recently! I am thrilled that you consider Under the High Chair to have a spark of creativity and much encouraged. Also it is an honour to be listed with such royal company as Sugar Plum and My Sweet and Saucy.
And lastly, Ta-Da.
Christmas came early this year to Under the High Chair...
Sunday, November 09, 2008
...some of it. There was a smaller second table.
...What? There are scones leftover??
...Um, can you say SCORE?! I took home two boxes like this.
Stay tuned for the photo essay and the full story. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some jam to eat. With a spoon.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
I never really liked muffins until just a few years ago. Every one I encountered was dry, tasteless, crumbly and completely devoid of any personality. I have finally experimented with enough recipes to have a few types in my repertoire that are always fantastic...but even they get a little boring.
I was skeptical of this recipe from wholeliving.com as I was sure the addition of whole wheat flour would make them heavy, just like the muffins we ate when I was growing up--healthy, oh you bet, but they were like little hockey pucks with flavor!
I could not have been more pleasantly surprised by this recipe! They were tender, oh-so-moist, and had just enough of that spiced pumpkin flavor to feel like a true autumn muffin.
I ate at least three during the little coffee percolator photo shoot.
I am thrilled to have another moist and memorable muffin recipe under my belt and an eager to try some variations. With dark chocolate chunks, maybe? Dried apples?
It's going to be a great winter after all!
Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Golden Raisins
adapted from 'Pumpkin Muffins'
Makes 24 medium muffins.
3/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons more for sprinkling
1/2 cup golden raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush muffin tins with oil; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, spices, and baking soda; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk oil, pumpkin puree, yogurt, eggs, and 1 cup sugar to combine; add raisins and reserved dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened (do not overmix).
4. Divide evenly and spoon batter into muffin tins; sprinkle tops with remaining sugar (I skipped this part) Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in pan.